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not up for debate

She wasn't allowed on the RTÉ debate, and now Maria Steen has pulled herself out of the TV3 one

The debates come with just days left in the campaign.

pjimage Maria Steen (left), and Cora Sherlock

Updated 10.18pm

PROMINENT NO CAMPAIGNER and lawyer Maria Steen has pulled out of tomorrow night’s final referendum debate on TV3, hours after being refused access to tonight’s RTÉ Prime Time debate.

It is not yet clear why Steen, a member of the Iona Institute, has made herself unavailable for tomorrow night’s debate on the Pat Kenny Show Referendum Special. Her non-attendance has been confirmed by TV3 however.

Last week, Steen claimed that she had been treated unfavorably on Kenny’s radio show on Newstalk compared with obstetrician, and prominent Yes campaigner, Peter Boylan.

Earlier this evening RTÉ’s final TV debate on the forthcoming referendum on the Eighth Amendment was thrown into chaos when representative from Save the Eighth Cora Sherlock pulled out at the last minute.

Sherlock, a prominent No campaigner, pulled out of the debate late this evening. She had initially made herself available last Thursday, according to sources, but today said that she was unavailable.

Save the Eighth then nominated Steen, who had impressed during last Monday week’s Claire Byrne Live debate, as a replacement for Sherlock.

Sources indicated that RTÉ, however, refused to allow Steen to debate this evening given she had already represented the campaign last Monday week on that debate.

“We strongly believe a variety of voices should be represented across the issues,” a source earlier said.

“We are open to alternatives and are open to other options, but at present Save the Eighth is only proposing one. The programme is definitely going ahead.”

Both sides of the argument will be represented from the political sphere by Minister for Health Simon Harris for Yes, and Sinn Féin TD Peadar Toibín for No.

It’s believed, as things stand, that Toibín and Harris will now debate the issue head-to-head solely.


TV3 will air two debates tomorrow on the Eighth – the last two of the campaign.

First the Pat Kenny Show Referendum Special will air at 10pm. It will see a live audience and will feature Social Protection Minister Regina Doherty and Colm O’Gorman of Amnesty Ireland on the Yes side and Senator Rónán Mullen on the No side. Who will replace Steen is not yet known

There will be special filmed reports from academic and broadcaster Aoibhinn Ní Shúilleabháin, Spirit Radio host Wendy Grace, author and columnist Michael Harding and pianist and entrepreneur Frank McNamara.

Following that show, the Tonight Show will feature the last debate of the campaign before the moratorium begins.

The panel will include Fianna Fáil Leader Michael Martin, Sinn Féin Leader Mary Lou McDonald, businessman and No campaigner Declan Ganley and Theresa Lowe, barrister and communications consultant.

The debates come with just days left in the campaign. The country goes to the polls on Friday.

With reporting by Cianan Brennan

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